Discovering Historical Treasures

For close to 100 years, a Concord family has enjoyed growing up on and taking care of the Richard Temple Farm in Concord, MA. The original home was built in 1671 as part of the early settlement of Spencer Brook and is the oldest structure in the Barrett Farm Historic District. The seller’s niece shares some details of the journey she has taken as she uncovered and dispatched her family’s accumulated treasures as she prepared the property for sale.

On this Day of the Dead and All Souls, it seems fitting, at long last, to begin sharing some of the 2.5-year journey I have taken with our family’s ancestors through every drawer, nook, and cranny of the Corey family homestead of 86 years as the unsuspecting executor of my aunt’s estate in Concord, MA.

The Richard Temple house was built in 1671. It is the oldest house in the Barretts Mill Historic District and the third oldest house in Concord. From 1795-1845, the house belonged to Capt. John and Martha Stone. Their daughter Patty married William Monroe, Concord’s renowned furniture, clock, and pencil maker. William and Patty lived in this house with Martha Stone from 1820-1845, and it was here that the first American pencils were made. Marking its 350th birthday this year, this home has sheltered the Corey-Peters family and their ancestral legacies spanning almost as many years.

For me, growing up, this was my grandmother’s house and later my Aunt Rosie’s where we gathered for holiday meals amidst old house smells, antiques, ticking clocks, bird carvings, handwoven appointments, old hyacinth jars, and African violets, and a sweet, attached greenhouse filled with blooming geraniums, cyclamen, and clivia through the winter months. And there were always birds, canaries, and lovebirds singing inside and feathered neighbors common and rare gathering outside the kitchen windows to be admired, counted, and fed. But over all those decades, I had only the faintest clue of the family’s ancestry or the vast network of historical threads that wove through the contents of the house, dating back beyond the American Revolution.

Over these last many months, I’ve been on a time-traveling adventure of discovery, research, and outreach to do my best to honor my aunt, the ancestors, and the keepsakes and stories they left behind. My camera and I have been busy documenting it all, both to inventory and to hold the memory of these family touchstones and strands. I’ve felt no small weight of responsibility to disperse these legacies beyond the family’s care for the first time in three centuries. I hope each object will delight, inform, and inspire the families and museums that have kindly taken them in.

The old house passes to new owners this month and we are delighted that such an appreciative family will enliven its venerable interiors once again.

Hosmer House Portrait (c. 1860’s)

Richard Temple house (1671). Photo by Alfred Hosmer, late 1880s. North extension and barn were likely added by William and Patty (Stone) Monroe in the early 1800s, to house William’s growing furniture, clock, and pencil-making productions.

Family Portrait/Back Parlor

Eben and Dorothy Peters Corey purchased the house in 1936 and had this family portrait taken circa 1942. Children Ruth and George Corey in back and Elizabeth and Rosita Corey in front. Rosita lived here most of her life until her death early in 2019. Elizabeth and George are with us still.

Grandma’s Drawer

Just one of scores of drawers, closets, cupboards, chests and trunks, and nooks and crannies filled with family keepsakes. Here – one porcelain doll, four Daguerreotypes and other old photos, and two old-time recipes (Butternut pickles and Steamed fruit pudding).

A Last Day at the Old Homestead

Last Thursday, I went to the Concord homestead one last time. I met with John Fitzwilliam, a clock specialist, who came to the house to remove an early Simon Willard wall clock for repair. A lover of antique houses, I gave him a tour. While in the workshop, his experienced eye spotted a 19th-century Connecticut clock weight that had been overlooked by so many others. After a quiet lunch outside, I went back in to pay our family’s respects to each room. Memories flooded back along with the palpable presence of the many ancestors whose photos, letters, and keepsakes I had handled and researched over so many months. When I reached the beautiful, old kitchen door, I paused and put my hand against its time-worn boards and felt a palpable wave pass through my body as if receiving a collective farewell.

Today, the old house welcomed an excited and deeply appreciative new family across its threshold.

One-day Connecticut clock weight, c. 1830 ( ©Cherrie Corey)

( ©Cherrie Corey)

From the New Owners

The buyers of this historic, treasured property share how they feel as they become the stewards of Barretts Mill Road:

“When we first walked into the farmhouse on Barretts Mill Road, we were immediately taken by the charm of the home. The original wide-plank floors, the built-ins, the whimsical color palette, and the way the light came into the house, all made the place feel like a house we wanted to spend more time in. After reading about the history of the house, we were struck by all of the history the home has lived through. We felt an immediate connection to some of the past residents of the home, particularly Anne Locke, who lived in the home around 1900. She was one of the founders of Concord Academy. Our 3 daughters attend the school today and it was through them that we got to know and love Concord. Between the connections we felt to past residents and as people who love history and design, we asked ourselves if we were willing to take on the responsibility of owning a historic home. We quickly decided that Barretts Mill was the place where we wanted to grow old. We are excited to enjoy the beauty of the nature that surrounds the home, as well as the stewardship of maintaining the history of a beautiful antique home.”